petrochemical-plant-pixabay-040820-wide.jpg
March 9, 2021 by Karen Sokol, Robert Verchick

U.N. Human Rights Experts Call Out Environmental Racism in Louisiana's 'Cancer Alley'

In the United States, many people think the world's worst human rights abuses take place elsewhere. Unless you are among those in the United States who are subjected to such mistreatment.

On March 2, human rights experts called the world's attention to some of the most egregious and systematic human rights violations perpetuated here in the United States — and in particular in our neck of the woods in southeast Louisiana. International human rights experts condemned long-standing environmental racism in "Cancer Alley" — a heavily industrialized and polluted corridor along the Lower Mississippi River — and said it must end.

In a statement, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner summarized the experts' findings condemning the U.S. government's targeting of the residents of the region, most of whom are Black, for the siting of toxic polluting oil, gas, and chemical facilities. Plans to further develop the corridor's infamous "petrochemical complex" would further poison air and water and put Black people at even greater risk of cancer, lung disease, and other health problems, the office said in a statement.

"This form of environmental racism poses serious and disproportionate threats to the enjoyment of several human rights of its largely African …

Feb. 24, 2021 by Robert Verchick
oil-rig-offshore-wide.jpg

Since I began serving on Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force, charged with finding a way to zero out net greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, there is one question I get from people more than any other: “C’mon, are you serious?”

It’s not that Louisianans don’t see the need. Sea-level rise could soon swallow our coast, and hurricanes souped up by climate change are now the new normal.

The problem is how we see ourselves. Louisiana, I’m reminded, is an oil-and-gas state. Whatever were we thinking?

My quick response is Louisiana is really an energy state, with more sun and offshore wind than most of our peers.

My longer answer is that I really don’t know how serious we are. But I’ve started following a trio of issues that could tip the scale …

  • 1 (current)
CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
March 9, 2021

U.N. Human Rights Experts Call Out Environmental Racism in Louisiana's 'Cancer Alley'

Feb. 24, 2021

Baton Rouge Advocate Op-ed: Louisiana Should Get Serious About Its Climate Crisis